Category Archives: Featured Stories

Homeschool program finishes fall co-op

Oswego County LEAH (Loving Education at Home) announces the completion of its Homeschool fall cooperative.

Twice a year, homeschool students gather at the Christian Missionary Alliance Church in Fulton.

Classes are offered from preschool to high school, with a nursery available.

Once in the fall and once in the spring, area homeschoolers gather on eight consecutive Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to noon.

This year’s fall co-op ran from Sept.  17 to Nov. 12 and was comprised of nearly 150 children.

These three hours are divided into three 45-minute class periods with multiple choices available for each grade level.

Parent taught classes such as Shakespeare, Reader’s Theater, Magnetism and Electricity, Sewing and Gym were just a few of the class subjects available this co-op.

Co-op provides a chance for social interaction and supplements studies done at home.

Anyone interested in co-op or joining LEAH is invited to visit its website at

LEAH is a nationwide homeschool group was founded in 1983 to allow homeschoolers to connect with, support, and encourage one another.

Oswego schools alive with the sounds of holiday music

This is the time of year for Oswego school district students to display their musical talents.

All concerts are open to the public.

Here is a concert list:

7 p.m., Monday, Dec. 9, Fitzhugh Park band, orchestra and chorus

7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 10, Kingsford Park band, chorus and orchestra

7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 11, Charles E. Riley band, chorus and orchestra

7:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 12, Oswego Middle School choral

7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 13, Oswego High School orchestra

7:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 16, Oswego High School choral

7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 17, Oswego Middle School band and orchestra

7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 18, Oswego Jazz Band

Honor Society offers peer tutoring at G. Ray Bodley High

Submitted by Oswego County BOCES

The National Honor Society Chapter at G. Ray Bodley High School offers free academic assistance to students at the school through a tutoring program.

The peer-assistant program is managed by honor society member volunteers and is offered three days per week — Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays — during the students’ 22-minute guided study hall block.

Students in grades nine through 12 can receive hands-on help through the tutoring program in several subject areas including algebra, geometry, English, social studies, science, French, German and Spanish.

Honor Society Adviser Nate Fasulo oversees the tutoring program and said it is mutually beneficial for both the tutors and the students.

It increases student collaboration as well as reinforces essential college and career-readiness skills such as independence and accountability.

“We encourage our students at GRB to utilize any and all academic recourses to be successful in school,” Fasulo said.

“Our honor society student-tutors are a great resource for students needing some hands-on help with homework or understanding course content,” he added.

For the honor society students, peer-tutoring provides an excellent opportunity to help with interpersonal skills and face-to-face communication skills.

In addition, the students’ participation in the peer-tutoring program fulfills a portion of their NHS community service requirements.

To maintain membership in National Honor Society at G. Ray Bodley, students must participate in at least 12 volunteer hours during a school year.

Through the peer-tutoring program, honor society members can earn up to one hour of volunteer service each school week.

Learning’s a blast at Lanigan Elementary

Sixth-graders at Lanigan Elementary School are having a real ‘blast’ in class this school year.

The students, turned budding scientists, tackled an out-of-this-world science project where they each crafted and launched their very own rocket.

The school’s sixth-grade teachers coordinate a rocketry project each year in conjunction with the classroom study of Isaac Newton’s three laws of motion:

An object at rest will stay at rest unless an external force acts upon it and conversely, an object in motion will stay in motion unless an external force acts upon it.

Force is equal to mass times acceleration of an object; and

For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

The students construct model rockets over the course of several school days using kits from the Onondaga-Cortland-Madison BOCES Science Center.

The teachers then host a NASA-inspired launch day for the students.

Parents are invited to join the students for their launch day.

Many of the younger grade levels at the school join the excitement as spectators.

Fulton school district staff brainstorms ways to boost graduation rate

Submitted by Oswego County BOCES

With a focus on student achievement, Fulton City School District teachers and support staff recently met to discuss factors that contribute to students meeting graduation requirements.

With this was discussion of boosting the graduation rate.

The fall staff development day provided an opportunity for school personnel to examine some of the root causes as to why some students do not finish high school in four years.

Teachers, guidance counselors, school-home liaisons and special education counselors from kindergarten through 12th grade studied student data in a comprehensive way.

“We wanted to look and identify with our student support staff … just what were some of the barriers to kids completing (high school),” said Geri Geitner, Fulton district director of student support programs.

“So we brainstormed that and then we looked at specific kids from the time they entered our district all the way through. We had all of their information and data, and identified for each kid where we started to see things fall apart.,” she said.

A wide variety of factors played roles in student achievement, according to the data collected during the staff development day.

Academic, behavioral, social, emotional, family and attendance issues were all identified as factors that influenced the outcomes.

Geitner said staff members not only looked at when those issues started to surface, but they also discussed some of the preventive strategies that are working for students facing similar circumstances.

“We looked at kids with similar risk factors that had graduated and (examined) what made them successful and how they were able to overcome barriers and complete their high school graduation requirement,” Geitner said.

“We looked at the kids who didn’t pass Regents exams and attendance was really the common factor,” said G. Ray Bodley High School Principal Donna Parkhurst.

She noted that students who missed 15 days or more were among those who had the most difficulty.

Another subgroup, those who are categorized as having low socioeconomic status, also struggled to earn a diploma on time, Parkhurst said.

To address some of the issues identified as risk factors, the district has conducted thorough training and development using the work of renowned educators Eric Jensen and Ruby Payne.

“We’ve done extensive professional development around both of those researchers and have focused on strategies for implementing some of their (recommendations) school wide and district wide,” Geitner said.

In addition to holding staff development days and utilizing the research developed by respected educators, the district has implemented its own strategies to boost the graduation rate as well.

“We’re really trying to implement the response to intervention framework … to monitor progress, identify students who are struggling and trying to put corrections in place as soon as those challenges come to light,” Geitner said.

Parkhurst noted there are also credit recovery and grade recovery options for students who have fallen behind.

Teachers offer assistance after school and there are tutoring options available to help students stay on track.

While there are plenty of options available to help students succeed, one of the more unique strategies was implemented last year with the introduction of college and career readiness portfolios.

The electronic portfolios began with seventh-graders in 2012-13 and serve as a goal-setting initiative.

“It gets them thinking about their long-term goals earlier on … engaging them in that conversation,” Geitner said. “Each year the students have a different section of the portfolio to complete. (It includes) objectives and information about career and college options.

“They can print it out and use it for their own benefit if they were to apply for a job, to enter the military or to apply for college, so they can use them for their long-term planning,” she said.

With an intense focus on student achievement and improving the graduation rate, Fulton school administrators are confident the right strategies are in place and staff development days serve a key role in helping the district meets it goals.

“One of the biggest benefits (of the recent staff development day) was that it was a K through 12 approach, so that kind of collaboration was very beneficial,” Geitner said.

“We gained a lot of insight from the elementary and middle school staff to supplement what the secondary and high school staff knew about the kids when they were here, so that was really helpful,” she said. “It also helped us focus on areas where we could continue to improve and grow our transitions, not just between junior high and high school, but transitions all the way along.”

Site-based teams in Fulton school district talk student improvement

Submitted by Oswego County BOCES

Aligned with the Fulton City School District’s shared decision making model and in conjunction with efforts to maintain a continuous cycle of improvement, district officials and the board of education once again hosted a district-wide meeting for members of each school building’s site-based team.

Site-based teams from each school building are comprised of parents, community members, students, teachers and/or administrators.

Each team meets regularly throughout the school year and then participates once a year in a district-wide meeting to discuss efforts that support improvement and student achievement as well as enhance the school and community connection.

Superintendent of Schools Bill Lynch was joined by Betsy Conners, executive director of instruction and assessment, for a “state of the school district” address during the annual meeting.

The pair reviewed student performance, the programs and offerings available to students in the district and information about the school improvement plans developed for each school building by the stakeholders of that building.

Attendees also discussed college and career readiness and what that looks like at each building and at each grade level.

“We used to say ‘our mission is to get students to graduate.’ It’s so much more than that now,” Conners said during the meeting. “We are preparing them for life, a career, and more,” she added.

Tied to the college and career readiness theme during the meeting was a discussion about the Common Core Learning Standards.

“The best thing about Common Core is that it forces kids to think, debate and discuss. It’s not about regurgitating material,” Conners said as she spoke about the need to educate students today for careers that do not even exist yet.

District officials also talked about the 2014-15 budget process and what to anticipate in the year ahead in relation to state and federal funds to support education and sustain current offerings and opportunities for students.

Since the implementation of the shared decision-making process, the input, thoughts, questions, and ideas from school site-based teams have led to changes and improved opportunities for all students in the Fulton district.

For more information about the site based-team at your child’s school, call the building principal.

Sorbello onion farm in Granby hit by fire

A huge fire in Granby has destroyed a packing, sorting, grading and storage building at the Sorbello and Sons onion farm.

Morris Sorbello said he was called at about 4:45 p.m. Tuesday about the fire. Sorbello is an Oswego County legislator representing the Granby area and had been in Oswego for a legislature committee meeting.

“The most important thing is no one was hurt,” he said Wednesday morning.

Sorbello said he lost most of this year’s onion crop that was being stored in the building — about 115,000 50-pound units. The building, which is actually three buildings hooked together by tunnels, also is a loss.

He said firefighters still are at the scene Wednesday morning and the fire is still smoldering.

He also lost equipment in the building used for the sorting and grading of onions. He is insured.

An exact cause of the fire has not been determined, but Sorbello said it may have been electrical. He said his son had been in the building at about 4 p.m. and had hooked up an electrical charger to a machine and that may have malfunctioned.

Porky & Buddy explain ‘litter training’

Dear Porky & Buddy,

I am planning to adopt an eight-week-old kitten soon.

She will be my first pet ever and I am wondering how I go about litter training her? I helped with the toilet training of my kids when they were toddlers and I know how stressful it can be. I don’t want to make any mistakes.



Dear John,

First of all thanks for adopting your new pet. We love to hear that, especially at this time of year when every pet wants a home for the holidays! (Dear readers, Get the hint???)

Now to answer your question — all fanatical cat lovers know the secret process for litter training a kitten and we are going to share it, but only with you, just because we appreciate your decision to adopt.

Here it is … First put on your favorite slippers and nice comfy robe. Find a good book to read, get a plate of cookies and pour yourself a cup of tea or a glass of wine, or whatever, and then sit back in your favorite chair and … DON’T DO ANYTHING!

Seriously, we have to laugh when we hear people talking about “litter training” a cat. Using litter, or any other available substance, like dirt or sand, to scratch in and then cover up their waste is instinctive for cats.

Tiny kittens that can barely walk yet will do it, (although sometimes a really tiny kitten will need some prompting).

By the time it is eight weeks old all any cat needs is the litter itself. (There are sometimes other health related problems that affect litter use, but not because the cat doesn’t know how, and that’s a different question.)

The more important issue with bringing a kitten home for the first time is to make sure that she has an opportunity to adjust to her new home without becoming too stressed or frightened.

The best way to do that is to set up a “safe room” where she can go when she first comes home, an enclosed area, like a spare bedroom or bathroom, where she can easily find her food, her bed, her toys (lots of them), and, yes, her litter.

She should stay there and you should visit frequently until she seems comfortable enough to explore farther into the house.

For some kittens that could take a week — for others it will take 30 seconds — but that time to adjust can be critical to your future success with bonding with your new best friend, especially if she is a little shy.

So good luck and tell all of your friends the Oswego County Humane Society has lots of handsome, elegant, interesting and “litter trained” cats available for adoption. You can see them at

For the entire month of December, adopt one cat more than six months old and the adoption fee is only $50. Adopt another best buddy for him or her and the  adoption fee is only $25 for the second cat.

The adoption fee for all cats over one year old is only $25 — not because they’re worth less — but only because they need homes more.

Speaking of cat litter, bring a bag of scoopable litter or a bag of dry cat or kitten food (or $5) to the American Foundry from 7 to 11 p.m. Dec. 21 for the third annual Holiday fundraiser for the Oswego County Humane Society. The night will feature the Billionaires with Tom Ciappa. A party for the animals with the party animals!

The Oswego County Humane Society provides spay/neuter services and assistance, fostering and adoption of animals in urgent need, humane education programs, and information and referrals to animal lovers throughout Oswego County.

Our office is at 265 W. First St., Oswego. Call 207-1070, email or visit for more information.